Slight increase in Norwegian drug consumption in 2015

April 20, 2016, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Slight increase in drug consumption in 2015
Figure 1 Sales of cholesterol-lowering drugs (ATC group C10) in Norway during the period 1990-2015, expressed in DDD / 1000 inhabitants / day. White = other statins. 

Drug sales measured in defined daily doses (DDD) increased by 2 per cent from 2014 to 2015. Revenue growth was 8.6 per cent. This is shown in "Drug Consumption in Norway 2011-2015", a report issued by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

The report provides a detailed overview of all sales of prescription and over-the-counter medicines from wholesalers to pharmacies, hospitals / nursing homes and grocery stores each year in the period from 2011 to 2015.

Total sales of medicines in 2015

  • Wholesalers sold medicines for 16.1 billion Norwegian kroner in 2015, of which sales of veterinary drugs accounted for just over 1 billion kroner. Converted to recommended retail prices in pharmacies and grocery, this gives a turnover of around 24 billion.
  • Revenue increased by 8.6 per cent from 2014 to 2015.
  • Measured in terms of DDD, drug sales increased by 2.1 per cent.

Revenue growth was mainly due to increased use of newer and more expensive medicines to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis and other immunological diseases, and hepatitis C infections.

Population growth and an ageing population have contributed to the slight increase in sales measured by volume over time.

Cardiovascular group is biggest

Mortality from cardiovascular diseases has declined sharply over time. Many factors have contributed to this, including better pharmacological treatment. Good control of and high cholesterol help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Slight increase in drug consumption in 2015
Figure 2. Sales of antibiotics (ATC group J01) in Norway during the period 1990-2015 by DDD / 1000 inhabitants / day. Source: Wholesale Drug Statistics, Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Drugs used to treat and prevent cardiovascular diseases (ATC group C), is the largest pharmaceutical group measured in doses. It accounted for about 30 per cent of the total number of doses in 2015. Measured in doses, sales increased in this group by 1.6 per cent.

Sales of cholesterol-lowering medicines measured in DDD increased by 5 per cent from 2014 to 2015, which was a slightly greater increase than the previous year. Figure 1 shows the trend in the use of cholesterol-lowering medicines since 1990.

Sales of antibiotics decreased in 2015

The National Strategy against Antibiotic Resistance 2015-2020 contains goals to limit the use of antibiotics. Sales of antibiotics in 2015 measured in doses still show a slight decline (Figure 2). This is in line with the goals of the action plan.

Stable sales of over-the-counter drugs

In 2015, sales of over-the-counter drugs accounted for 13 per cent of the total in number of DDDs and 11 per cent of the total costs. These proportions have remained constant over time.

The report can be downloaded as a pdf file from fhi.no. The report contains several figures showing changes in the use of key drug groups over the last 25 years, such as pain relief and psychotropic drugs.

About defined daily dose (DDD)

Defined daily dose (DDD) is a unit of measurement used to study changes in over time and compares geographical differences both nationally and internationally. For example, the sale expressed as 10 DDD / 1000 inhabitants / day means that ten out of 1000 people (i.e. one per cent of the population) can receive this specific treatment daily.

Since the doses used and the treatment duration may vary from person to person, the proportion of users often does correspond to the estimated "DDD figure." The Norwegian Prescription Database provides information about the number of people and proportion of the population that have received a prescription and had the medicine dispensed in a pharmacy. Data for 2004-2015 are available at www.reseptregisteret.no.

Explore further: Report: US medicine spending up 8.5 percent 2015

Related Stories

Report: US medicine spending up 8.5 percent 2015

April 14, 2016
U.S. spending on prescription drugs rose 8.5 percent last year, slightly less than in 2014, driven mainly by growing use of ultra-expensive new drugs and price hikes on other medicines.

Spending on prescription meds up about 5 percent in 2015

March 17, 2016
(HealthDay)—Spending on prescription medications for insured Americans increased about 5 percent in 2015, with the increase half of that seen in 2014, the Associated Press reported.

FDA approves first cheaper version of J&J's top drug Remicade

April 5, 2016
Federal health officials have approved a cheaper version of Johnson & Johnson's blockbuster drug, Remicade, a pricey biotech medicine for inflammatory diseases.

AstraZeneca doubles profits; warns of lower drug sales

February 4, 2016
British pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca on Thursday said its net profits more than doubled in 2015, adding it expects lower sales this year on US patent expiry of cholesterol treatment Crestor.

Recommended for you

Discovery opens door for synthetic opioids with less addictive qualities

June 1, 2018
Making opioids from sugar instead of from field grown opium poppies has the potential to solve many of the problems associated with manufacturing strong pain killers.

US doctors prescribing fewer opioid painkillers: report

May 31, 2018
US doctors reduced the number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers last year, continuing a five-year trend, in an effort to reverse a deadly drug abuse epidemic, a report released Thursday said.

Researchers publish study on new therapy to treat opioid use disorder

May 22, 2018
Better delivery of medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) is key to addressing the opioid crisis and helping the 2.6 million Americans affected by the disease.

Could nonprofit drug companies cut sky-high prices?

May 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Generic prescription drugs should be cheap, but prices for some have soared in the United States in recent years. Now a group of U.S. hospitals thinks it has a solution: a nonprofit drug maker.

Fewer antibiotics for kids, but more ADHD drugs

May 15, 2018
(HealthDay)—American kids are taking fewer prescription medications these days—but certain drugs are being prescribed more than ever, a new government study finds.

Opioid makers' perks to docs tied to more prescriptions

May 14, 2018
Doctors who accept perks from companies that make opioid painkillers are more likely to prescribe the drugs for their patients, new research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.